According to a map of the group developed by Alhashimi, the Iraqi expert, al-Baghdadi has 25 deputies across Iraq and Syria. About one-third were military officers during Saddam’s rule, and nearly all were imprisoned by US forces.
The last two leaders of Islamic State’s military council were former Iraqi military officers: a colonel and a captain. Both have been killed, and followed by a former lieutenant colonel, Adnan al-Sweidawi, who is about 50 years old.
Ahmed al-Dulaimi, the governor of Anbar province, which is now largely controlled by Islamic State, said that all three men had graduated from the same military academy. Al-Dulaimi said he had taught one of them, Adnan Nijim, who graduated in 1993 to become an infantry officer. “It was never clear that he would turn out like that,” al-Dulaimi said.